Cruising with the dolphins: a family day out in Mandurah

Cruising with the dolphins: a family day out in Mandurah

I was hoping for good fortune when we boarded Mandurah Cruises and Gift Shop’s Dolphin & Scenic Canal Cruise last Sunday. And I’m not talking about being lucky enough to see the dolphins. After a 112km drive to Mandurah with a couple of grisly so-and-so’s, I was depending on this boat trip to ease the tantrums that were brewing. We’d sure have to be lucky to avoid them on our family day out in Mandurah that day.


Our family day out in Mandurah was fantastic.


A Tantrum Start to Our Family Day Out in Mandurah


As soon as we all piled out the car, we headed straight for Simmos and attempted to placate the girls with ice cream. There was no obvious success, but I did my best to smile as I led the way to pick up our boarding passes. Only a short walk over the boardwalk, we spotted the sign for Mandurah Cruises and Gift Shop up ahead. It was no trouble at all for the friendly staff behind the counter to add our late fish and chips order to our tickets, and even when our three-year-old, Ada, pulled a handful of Chupa Chups to the floor, they smiled and wished us a good trip. Probably glad to see the back of us 😉


A family day out in Mandurah.


We cemented a good spot in the queue, but of course our five-year-old, Eve, wanted the toilet. With only five minutes ‘til the boat was due to leave, I held her hand and ran… back the way we’d come from… only a few moments ago… while my smile struggled madly with a grimace. Tick tock, tick tock. Ok, let’s go! We raced back to the boat to find everyone aboard except us. As we showed our tickets to the lady, Eve asked me if we could sit up top, but as expected, we had to head for the hull. There followed a bit of a family scuffle as the girls reluctantly chose their seats downstairs, followed by a few tears from Ada because she was told off by Daddy for trying to climb head-first out the window. We were right next to the bar, though, which was comforting for me, and I noted the chilled wine for later.


And We’re Off


You're sure to see seagulls on your family day out in Mandurah.


And we were off! The boat jerked away from the seagulls who watched us casually from the jetty. The wind rushed in through the windows and the clear blue water rippled around us. At last I saw smiles on our girlies’ faces, and for that moment, all stress was forgotten. The friendly captain’s voice welcomed us aboard, and although not guaranteeing us a close encounter, told us dolphins often played alongside the boat. The girls smiled some more.


The girls loved their family day out in Mandurah.


History and Lunch Through the Canals


I settled back to listen to the commentary, learning firstly that the beautiful old tree I could see on the shore was a Moreton Bay Fig, planted over one hundred years ago in the gardens of the old Peninsula Hotel. The girls were on ‘dolphin duty’, transfixed to the water and ready to shout “Dolphin!” if they saw one.


We saw other people enjoying a family day out in Mandurah.


The boat cruised on to Dolphin Pool, named as such because dolphins use to swim here abundantly, trapping fish in shallow waters. There’s not so many dolphins now, we were told, because of the numerous obstacles in their way. The commentator was so right. The water was heaving with sail boats, motorboats, kayaks, and dinghies. There was even a crowd of fishermen, who stood patiently in their wellies near the shore. A large inflatable aqua park, floating on the water in the distance, looked like awesome fun for another family day out in Mandurah.


On our family day out in Mandurah, we learnt about the Mandurah war memorial.


Next we passed the Mandurah War Memorial and discovered how the columns represent the fallen soldiers of Gallipoli. I was just getting engrossed in the story of the Tuckey family, and their two-storey fish factory of 1880, when the ‘toddler trouble’ started. Ada had spotted the Chupa Chups — oh God, no, not more Chupa Chups — and decided that she wanted one… or two or three. She didn’t need more sugar, so I informed her kindly that we’d soon be dining on fish and chips from nearby Nino’s. The promised menu, however, didn’t stack up against the lollipops, and very soon, we were tackling a child who just wouldn’t take no for an answer. When the captain personally delivered (wow!) the fish lunches to our seats, the poor man didn’t know where to look. Luckily, the food was so crispy fresh and delicious, Ada soon snapped out of her hissy fit. We were in the clear, for now…


Our family day out in Mandurah ended with fish and chips.


Dolphin Luck


After lunch, it was time to venture out on deck. To our delight, the captain had spotted some dolphins and we all crowded to the bow of the boat. It was so exciting to see them, jumping playfully out of the water; the girls were literally squeaking with happiness. But with happiness comes emotion, and with emotion comes ‘not listening’. Ada insisted she wanted to touch them, and jumped up on the railing without a second thought. In retrospect, I probably should have just held her there safely, but instead, I grabbed her and told her off. Well, I won’t go into details, but let’s just say there was absolutely nothing we could do to convince her that the dolphins were too far away for hugs. Sigh.


At first, I wasn't sure Ada would enjoy our family day out in Mandurah.


After a few concerned looks from other passengers and much to the girl’s dismay, we were forced to venture back downstairs. I was disappointed we couldn’t stay outside to see the dolphins playing, but fortune finally smiled upon us. Just as we got back to our seats, the dolphins — identified by the captain as Brooke and Trouble — came right up close to the boat, and next to our open window! We were so close we could see the sunburn marks on their heads. Apparently these two particular dolphins aren’t often seen in the Mandurah canals, and we were extremely lucky to see them. They were so beautiful, I cried. Although it might have been from relief, because finally the effort of the day was worth it. To our absolute delight, we had front and centre stage for many many wonderful minutes on our family day out in Mandurah.


We saw dolphins on our family day out in Mandurah.


Thank You Mandurah Cruises


Checking out the canals on our family day out in Mandurah.


Yes, I know not every outing with two little ones is going to be a walk in the park, but thanks to the crew from Mandurah Cruises and Gift Shop, we most definitely had a cruise with the dolphins. And I know what I’d prefer… thanks, guys!

Enjoy your own family day out in Mandurah with Mandurah Cruises. Visit for more information and don’t forget to use your KidzaBuzz Book or App to receive a fantastic 50% off your total booking cost on a 1hr Dolphin and Scenic Canal Cruise. 


Watch the Mandurah Cruises promotional video below for a glimpse of a great family day out in Mandurah!



2 Comment(s)

  • by Brydie Wright Posted February 1, 2017 5:05 am

    Eleanor, great blog!! I’m so glad I”ve found another mum whose a writer who tells it like it is about the tribulations… err, joys, of trying to do anything with your kids. Thank you!

    • by Eleanor Mulder Posted February 2, 2017 10:17 am

      Yes, it’s not always plain sailing (excuse the pun) with two little ones, is it? But the Mandurah Cruises staff — and, of course, the beautiful dolphins — sure made it easier to bear. Thanks for commenting 🙂

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